The best way to show 360 videos with a VR headset

Research has shown about a third of the time of VR usage is spend watching video. Both 360 panoramic video and flat, traditional video. That might not have been the virtual future many have predicted, however VR headsets have proven to be a fantastic medium to view immersive video in a virtual theatre.

If you want to present 360 video in a VR headset with Kiosk mode for both private and public use, there are several routes to take. Some require a bit more technical expertise than others. On this page we will examine the various options for viewing video content on a VR device.

Why use Kiosk Mode?

Different types of video

Although the main attraction is immersive panoramic video, there’s more to present than 360 video in a VR headset. Here are the different formats:

  • Regular flat video displayed as a rectangular screen.
  • Stereoscopic 3D video displayed as a rectangular screen.
  • 180 degree flat video displayed on a curved screen.
  • Stereoscopic 3D 180 degree video displayed on a curved screen.
  • 360 degree video displayed on a fully immersive screen.
  • Stereoscopic 3D 360 degree video displayed on a fully immersive screen.

All options can be viewed online or offline, streaming video can cause buffering issues due to a heavy data load.

Streaming video

One of the easiest ways to present 360 video on a VR headset is streaming video. There’s no need to download large files to the internal memory. Due to compression the quality can be reduced, but for pure convenience it could provide a solution.

  • Internet browser: Depending on the device the standard internet browser can be used to locate and stream video online, just like you would on a PC or laptop. It’s not the most user-friendly method but it does allow the user to experience online video on a large virtual screen.
  • YouTube: You can use the browser and navigate to YouTube, it’s also possible to install a custom app if available for the device. YouTube features both flat, 180 and 360 content that’s displayed on a virtual screen.
  • Netflix: The popular streaming service for serials and movies also offers an app for various virtual reality platforms. At the moment they do not offer 3D or 360 content so the immersion is not optimal, it does allow for a home theatre experience in every location.

Offline video

For all the convenience of streaming video there are also limitations such as higher compression, buffering on slow connections and of course the reliance on internet. At events or in a plane streaming 360 video might not be an option. Fortunately most (standalone) VR headsets offer a gallery app that allows for the playback of locally stored content.

Depending on the device content will be downloaded, copied from an SD card or transferred with or without a cable. Once stored in the internal memory (and located in a folder that can be accessed by the app) the videos can be played back with the need for an internet connection.

Check the device manual or app library to locate the photo / video gallery application. There are also alternative third-party viewing apps available with various features such as subtitles or advanced 3D settings.

Kiosk mode

With some headsets and also some technical expertise it’s possible to switch the device into ‘kiosk mode for virtual reality’ to limit the functionality of the system. This can be used for presentations in a professional environment, for instance if you want to show a commercial video to potential customers. There are numerous corporate applications for this mode, unfortunately most manufacturers do not offer this mode as a standard feature.

Virtual cinema

There are some video player apps available that allow the user to enter a virtual theater, even with specific seat assignment. By using the microphone the audience can interact, like in a regular cinema. For this feature to work the content should be accessed from a location that pushes the video to multiple devices without any lag or buffering, which is easier said than done.

Offline virtual cinema

Would you like to present 360 video in a VR headset during an event? That’s possible with the VR Sync software from Owl VR. This applications allows an unlimited number of VR devices to playback the same video file(s) controlled by one host. It’s an offline application to ensure perfect synchronization of the devices. It’s possible to create playlists and send individual messages from the host to one of the viewers.

As you can see virtual reality hardware is the ideal platform for watching high quality video content, both private and with an audience. There’s plenty of suitable hardware and software, although it could take some expertise to use it. Consult a specialized company to find out all possibilities.